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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Feb 16, 2023





RICHARD GUTIERREZ moved to ABS-CBN in 2017 playing the vampire supremo in “La Luna Sangre”, then he played villain to Coco Martin in “Probinsyano” from 2020 to 2022. 

Now, he’s finally given his first lead role in the hardhitting action-drama, “The Iron Heart”, which started airing last November.   

“Matagal kong hinintay ang project na ito na solo lead ako in an action vehicle and I was so glad when it finally came,” he says at the solo presscon he called on his own through his PR, Jun Lalin, for the start of the show’s Book 2. 

“This show was really developed just for me at matagal ang naging proceso bago namin nagawa.”

He plays Apollo Adelantar who becomes a secret agent called Tisoy aka Olimpio Custodio.  

The show projects him as a suave and debonair kind of James Bond and this is established right in the first episode when he planted a bomb on a helicopter that exploded in mid-air.  

He was wearing a pricey tuxedo, with him looking so dapper and handsome like the legendary 007.  

His mission is to bring down a crime ring, the Tatsulok, and he is given a powerhouse supporting cast led by assorted contravidas like Albert Martinez as Priam, Jake Cuenca as Eros, Diether Ocampo as Paul, Roi Vinzon as Hector, Baron Geisler as Janus, Ryan Eigenmann as Adonis and the latest addition is Ian Veneracion as Menandro.

In the flashback scenes, it’s established that he as Apollo has a bitter past, after his dad, Homer (Al Tantay), got killed in a bus and later, his sweetheart, Cassandra (Maja Salvador in a special participation), was also killed prematurely. 

“I am very pleased with our team, led by our directors Richard Arellano and Lester Pimentel Ong who I got to work with before in ‘Luna Sangre’. 

"And also our female co-stars led by Sue Ramirez as Venus, Maricel Laxa as Atty. Helen Gomez who recruited me to be an agent, Sofia Andres as Nyx, Dimples Romana as Selena, and Meryll Soriano as Juno. 

"Everyone is really collaborating well to make sure we have a great and exciting episode every night.”    

It’s so noticeable that he is now more buff than ever before. Was he influenced by his brother Raymond who is so physically fit? 

“Yes, he is my inspiration. But matagal siyang proceso and I’m still working on it. 

"The most difficult part is watching what you eat, which is difficult specially when we’re taping on lock in location in Cebu kasi ang sasarap ng pagkain doon. 

"Ang hirap mag-diet, it has to be a lifestyle change. I also try to exercise everyday for one hour. 

"The hard action sequences that we do in ‘The Iron Heart’ is also very taxing and I really have to be fit to be able to do them without a double and without being injured.”   

Why did they choose Cebu to be the show’s setting? 

“Para bago naman, kasi gamit na gamit na ang locations dito sa Metro-Manila. Cebu is fresh, new at ang ganda na ng Cebu ngayon. 

"Also, Mayor Mike Rama is my uncle and all the LGU’s and the local people are very supportive to us.” 

Richard has been on with wife Sarah Lahbati for 11 years now. 

Their eldest son, Zion, is now ten years old and the youngest, Kai, is five years old. 

What is the secret of their long lasting relationship?    

“Ang dami na naming pinagdaanan and we were always there for each other, kaya solid na solid kami ngayon. 

"We communicate well and we go out on dates, watch a movie, eat out, na kaming dalawa lang. 

"We leave our sons to their grandparents na tuwang-tuwa naman lagi. We are growing together not only as a couple but also as friends.” 

Sarah had a promising career then and everyone thought she’d hit it big as she has great potentials, but he cut it short when they became together. 

“But she is very happy naman where she is now. She loves being a wife to me and mother to our kids. 

"She knows her priorities. I’m not restraining her from having her own career, but it’s her decision not to do teleseryes kasi hindi puedeng sabay kaming mawawala. Somebody has to stay with the kids. 

"She prefers to do movies sana, kasi mas madaling gawin at hindi ka matatali sa taping. We also hope to have a baby girl. And we’re still planning for our church wedding.”   

What can he say about his twin brother Raymond who is now more open about his own sexual preference? 

“I am so happy for him. He is a late bloomer and I’m glad na may love life na siya and he is sharing it with the entire world. 

"Mabait naman ang partner niya, si Rob, who I've met online. I wish them both well.”